A Current Affair has, this week, again proved it’s relevancy and sensitivity as a leading outlet of sensationalist bullshit um, news stuff, by giving a platform to former Labor MP Gary Johns to discuss his somewhat unconventional ideas on welfare reform.

What’s the big idea?

Gary Johns has talking for some time now about his inspired idea that would stipulate that women who rely on unemployment benefits must have a hormonal contraceptive implant until they are no longer reliant on said benefits. Brilliant, right? I mean, it would seem that men make up more than half of the long-term unemployed population, but let’s not let all those tricky things like “number” and “facts” get in the way of this master plan.

Actually, looking at statistics, the biggest “drain” on welfare payments is those on aged pensions. They account for something like 45% of all welfare recipients. I assume Gary Johns will be setting his sights on them next, you know, once he’s got all the women firmly Implanoned or living on the streets- their choice, am I right? What will he suggest for the aged pensioners?

meryl gary johns

What if someone doesn’t want a contraceptive implant?

A person might have their reasons for not wanting to receive an Implanon. They might have a medical contraindication, like liver disease. They might be worried about side-effects like heavy bleeding, acne, pain and inflammation. They may be lesbian or transgender or celibate. They may want to get pregnant. But all these “wants” and “fears” and “needs” and “medical problems” should not stand in the way of Australia saving money on welfare. I mean, our welfare expenditure is comparatively low when we look at similar countries but that is completely beside the the point. It’s just my silly lady-brain letting those nasty old “facts” cloud my woman-thoughts again. The real point here is that some bloke knows, better than anyone actually involved, what should be happening with a woman’s body for the betterment of society. He doesn’t need to know her circumstances in detail; all he needs to know is that she is in a position where she needs to claim government assistance and therefore should be sanctioned accordingly.

maggie gary johns

You know, I was actually was a single mum at one point. I worked a 35 hour week but still relied on certain benefits. I managed my own contraception, as if I were some kind of adult. I even managed a deliberate 10 year gap between my children. I am sure I’d have felt much better about it had I been forced to have given the compulsory gift of an Implanon though, because Gary knows best when it comes to my uterus and yours, right?

Thousands of babies born to mums on benefits?

Gary Johns says that 20% of all Australian children are born to women who are “on a benefit”. I wonder exactly what this means, because he wasn’t very specific. I can’t find anything to back up this claim, but maybe I am googling wrong? I probably am, because, I have two X chromosomes and all.  All I am finding is what Gary Johns himself said. Maybe the benefits he refers to mean all benefits- so while some mums are on unemployment benefits, other women who are already mums may be receiving family tax benefit or childcare benefit when subsequent babies are born. Others may receive a disability support pension. What about other circumstances? Some women actually face a thing called pregnancy discrimination and some even lose their jobs because of it, which may force them to seek benefits. It’s not legal, but *gasp* some employers don’t give a shit about that and find ways around such trivialities. I wonder if Gary Johns knows about this, because apparently 49% of employed pregnant women experience it.

I suppose the important part here is that some people who don’t have a lot of money choose to reproduce. Gary Johns speaks of “inter-generational welfare dependency”, implying that people born into families where the parents are reliant on welfare or unemployment benefits grow up to do the same thing. From what Gary said, and the way he said it, that’s definitely most of those people. Or some. Either way, it must be stopped. Not through actually supporting families better- those families living in a cycle of welfare dependency right now? Too late. We must stop people who may potentially go on “the dole” before conception. That way we can breed them right on out of the gene-pool, I suppose? Kind of exactly like that science-word I read somewhere….eugenics?

beyonce- gary johns

This isn’t the first time Gary Johns has suggested this.

Though it was wonderful of A Current Affair to give Gary Johns a window into so many Australian homes to bestow his apparent wisdom upon us, you should know that his wisdom on this matter is now also available in book form, called “No Contraception, No Dole”, something that could come in very handy during these unseasonably chilly summer days. He has, as previously mentioned, been pushing this idea for a while now. In fact, Gary even appeared on another, similar kind of “news program” mid-last year, called “The Bolt Report”. It is an excellent program to watch when you’ve had one glass of wine too many and need a good purge. On this particular episode, the topic was constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians when good old Gary took the opportunity to raise his “Women on benefits don’t deserve need bodily autonomy” idea, calling Indigenous women “cash cows” and claiming that they are kept pregnant for the money. You know, the whopping $500-600 a fortnight or so in entitlements versus the tiny expense associated with babies and children. How much do nappies cost, again? And cots and prams are free, right?

emma watson gary johns

I believe that some women are caught in a cycle of poverty and pregnancy, but will such a roughshod approach really help them? Or is education, support and practical help a better approach? Prevention is better than cure, I know…but Gary’s kind of prevention seems somehow excessive; sexist, classist, clumsy and a violation of, you know, basic human rights. Surely there is a better way to break such cycles? But goodness, what would I know, right?

Or, how about NO?

Jane Caro was also on A Current Affair to answer what Johns was suggesting. She seemed pretty unimpressed by Gary’s brilliant scheme. She offered reasons like how controlling a woman’s choices actually dehumanised her and observed that Gary expected to only women to bear this load. She noted that there was no mention of men having any sort of procedure to hinder their fertility. Now that I think on it. it’s almost as if Gary Johns thinks women get pregnant magically, all by themselves. I  think this because, like Jane Caro, I noticed there was zero mention of financially penalising the men who play a part in getting women pregnant. This leads me to believe that he does not, in fact, know how babies are made. Perhaps, then, he is not really the guy we should be listening to about contraceptives if he hasn’t got a grasp on the whole conception deal?

Gary Johns wants the government to force women to be temporarily sterilised if they have the temerity to seek welfare payments, with no such measures for men. It appalls me that he thinks this way; it horrifies me that some people agree with him and it makes me sick that TV shows are willing to give a voice to ideas that are problematic on so many levels; from social engineering to gender-based discrimination and human rights. Why present these opinions as credible and worthy rather than the monstrosities they are?

mindy kaling gary johns

#FYBF @ With Some Grace

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